Management And Labor Relations


Image Theory and the Appraisal of Employee Performance: To Screen or Not to Screen?

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2005

Publication Title

Journal of Business and Psychology


The authors tested the predictions of image theory [Beach, 1990Image theory: Decision-making in personal and organizational contexts. Chicester, England: Wiley] by examining the decision making processes underlying performance evaluation. Across three experiments, over 400 participants evaluated the performance of a book store employee with varying degrees of good and bad performance behaviors. Results indicated that: (1) performance judgments were linearly related to the number of good and bad behaviors present in the scenarios, (2) promotion decisions initially followed image theory’s screening process, as participants focused only on the employee’s bad behaviors, and (3) the introduction of a contrast manipulation (Experiment 2) resulted in participants abandoning the screening process for the promotion decision, until we included instructions against comparing employees (Experiment 3). Consistent with image theory, but moderated by contrast effects, promotion decisions relied on screening based solely on the employee’s bad behaviors, whereas performance judgments involved compensatory use of both the employee’s good and bad behaviors. We argue that how participants perceive the decision making scenario influences whether or not they will screen decisions. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Original Citation

Pesta, B. J., Kass, D. S., & Dunegan, K. J. (2005). Image Theory and the Appraisal of Employee Performance: To Screen or Not to Screen?. Journal Of Business & Psychology, 19(3), 341-360